Wearable technology (or fitted technology) is computer-based technology built into portable products such as clothes and accessories which are worn on the body and the aim is to obtain information directly through scanning and sensors. We felt curios about this area of IoT and decided to ask some questions to Mikko Malmivaara, the founder of Clothing+ and a veteran when it comes to wearables.
How did you become interested in IoT in the first place?
My professor at the University of Lapland in Finland asked me in August 1998 if I was interested in future design, cyberpunk and the like. I said I was and I got on a wearable computing project, which eventually turned into a business.
Tell us more about Clothing+. What was the idea behind it? How do you work with it today?
Clothing+ started in 1998 as a joint collaboration between two Finnish universities and a clothing manufacturer. The outcome, a survival suit for arctic conditions had a number of different sensors to monitor the wearer’s state. We decided to continue on the path of wearable sensors, as clothes and textile as a media are the perfect interface to measure a human being. Today Clothing+ manufactures about 75% of the world’s textile heart rate sensor straps and develops and mass-produces over three million textile-integrated biometric sensor products. Our clientele is the biggest global brands in sports electronics, sportswear and medical devices includes among others Adidas, Garmin, Suunto, Philips, Under Armour and Berlei.
How will IoT and wearables affect the sports industry the coming years?
Measuring one’s performance has always been a part of doing sports; at least time and distance are a natural part of many disciplines. With IoT and wearable tech we can get more information about our bodies and how we perform in different situations. This new information will help people reach their goals faster and get better at what they do in understanding more thoroughly what is going on under the skin during exercise, recovery and rest.
Is there any sport you think will be particular affected by this development? Why?
Endurance sports will be the first to reap the benefits of the new tech and medical insight. There is an existing target group that’s willing to spend with every sports shop as a familiar retail channel. Equipment sports, such as racquet sports, bats, clubs and sticks as well as ball sports will also get embedded tech improvements, but not at the speed and coverage of disciplines that don’t require much gear.
What impact does IoT have on your own everyday life?
Right now I am connected to the Internet 24/7 if I want, through different mobile communication devices and a work computer. I work in the business of IoT, so it’s a provider for me, as well as a fascinating subject to follow.
What is your vision for the future?
In the future I envision people monitoring their body for no immediate reason, but they will just be collecting a data bank of biometric information to have available if they get sick or have an accident. A personal biolog will enable the doctor to make far more accurate conclusions about one’s state of health when arriving at the hospital.
Thanks a lot Mikko for giving us your view on this and good luck with your company!